I need help.
People often tell me this, usually in quite stern tones. It’s amazing how perceptive they can be. I assume they can tell that I have so many brilliant projects on hand (see The Labours Left Unfinished above) for which I need assistance, not to mention a shitload of encouragement and reassurance.
Now, I believe, it is quite trendy these days for people to work as unpaid interns, like slaves with a side order of hope — hope that one day they will be able to use the experience gained to enhance their own work, or at least to soup up a cv (resumé). Famous folk and conspicuous companies have young graduates queuing up for the chance to make them tea or shine their shoes for forty free hours a week.
I could use a few of those eager mugs volunteers. Why not apply? You could be adding yourself to the long list of famous people who started out apprenticed to a now-forgotten master. You won’t be, but you could be.
Because it must be admitted that sentences like, I helped Dai Lowe make a film (movie) or I drew the pictures for Little Mr Poonlop on your cv (resumé) is not exactly a big career boost, even compared to I made tea at Pinewood Studios or I licked J K Rowling’s hallway clean. Indeed, it could count against you, and could even land you with years of expensive therapy sessions.
But, if you do think you could help, read on. I have quite a few vacancies. All interns would also be there to offer me encouragement, hugs, moral support, tissues, immoral support*. Ideally I need young people, probably undergraduates or recent graduates, though a university education is not essential, as some very bright people don’t go that way. But the basic need is for people who are intelligent, creative and open-minded enough to understand, criticise and contribute to some of the work, while still being naive and impressionable enough to think my ideas are amazing (or even half-adequate). Though anyone from 16 to 96 can apply, I find people who’ve reached the advanced age of 25, or who’ve just achieved a greater level of understanding and cynicism, usually see through me far too quickly. Some even begin every other sentence with, What you should do here is …
I want … no, I need people who will draw the pictures I want but can’t, point the camera where I ask while I perform, compose and play the accompaniment I need, without trying to change any of it into something completely different (they are more than welcome to go away and make that something themselves later; I’ll even hold the camera or make models for them, but not while they’re on intern-duty). And most of all though they’re welcome to laugh at my jokes (in fact that may be a prerequisite for the post), but I don’t want them to smirk or laugh with derision at my instructions, even if they are otherwise following them to the letter. And even more most of all, while I may welcome their admiration and blind devotion to all I stand for, there must be no actual adoration, or attempts on my devout state of bi-celibacy. My heart and all the naughty bits that go with it are spoken for, albeit by one who would prefer never to be within a parsec of them again. Hands off. Having said that, I doubt this proscription will be any trouble whatsoever, even for the most admiring assistant.
So, what jobs, what glorious opportunities for experience and self-improvement can I offer? It is obvious that there will be candidates able to fulfil more than one of these rôles. Let’s be honest, I only require reasonable competence in musicianship or illustration, and anyone can point a camera (I even provide a tripod) and tell me how brilliant I am (some even with a straight face). And more than one person could be helpful and fun in any one of them. So there is no one-to-one match: we could be assembling a team like the Avengers or it could all be done by one, like Robin to my Batman (no costume is required or provided).
Music Director: to work out what bloody chord I need on the ukulele for my Window Cleaner number in time for the 2016 Edinburgh Fringe for a start. And to work out the accompaniment for A Girl in a Thousand. And then accompany me at gigs or in the street, on the instrument of your choice, at least until we get moved on. No folkies need apply.
Cinematographer: short films shot at home are usually done with the camera(s) on a tripod or a surface, especially those that need no camera movement or zooming shots. But not only does location work often need more care, but there’s the fear of someone running off with the camera while I’m a few metres (yards) away — and, more to the point, I’d feel less of a pranny (schlemiel) if I’m not doing it all alone!
Editor: my writing is brilliant and inspired, as you can tell, but still, for some reasons, it gets little praise and less publication. I am very well aware that the artist, in any form or medium, is often the least well equipped to judge the work objectively, so I need someone to read and critique. I will of course throw the requisite prima donna hissy fit and refuse to accept that you’re right about anything. But you will be very welcome to say I told you so, whenever the opportunity arises.
Graphic designer: the luvofmelife is one of many people who regularly point out that though I am fairly competent (given sufficient time and paper) at producing artworks, my ability to design webpages, book covers, magazine layouts and the like is utterly woeful. This does not hurt me one bit, because I have never been under any illusions to the contrary. Back in the day, la japonesa designed me a brilliantly elegant business card, and I thought how easy she made it look. It isn’t, as many abortive attempts since then have proved. So someone with even the slightest flair for laying things (but not their employer) out would be more than welcome. And similarly …
Illustrator: I can draw naked people and even paint the odd landscape reasonably well, which is good enough for me, but book illustration, especially for the kiddies, is a different skill, which is (a) beyond me and (b) a far from suitable setting for sketches of nudey ladies. And Mr Poonlop and his many possible sequels cry out for some well-drawn, not-too-stylised pictures, showing the characters in hilarious situations all over Paris. The candidate is more than welcome to hire models and travel to France to research the backgrounds, but not I’m afraid, at my expense. Unless someone takes up the next job …
Rich patron: Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, as a budding composer, was spotted by rich widow and businesswoman, Countess Nadezhda von Meck, who decided to sponsor him for thirteen years, so that he could concentrate on composing. And she, a noted recluse, did this on the condition that they never met. Now. If anyone wants to give this a go in the case of a wannabe geriatric prodigy, please write now to arrange the standing order (or one bulk payment, the choice is yours). The not-meeting clause is far from essential, as long as you don’t want to influence the works done (or complain about the lack of them: the man of genius, as Aristotle tells us, is doing most when he appears to be doing least: that’s my story and I’m sticking to it). I usually find that most people who do meet me insist on a not-meeting-ever-again clause in our general association, so writing it in would be a mere formality. Again, a rich person who wishes to fund my life while fulfilling any or all of the other rôles would be welcomed with open arms (I’ll even take a bath before opening them). And even without money or talent, you could fill the most important rôle of all …
General acolyte: even if you can’t do the more technical stuff, you could just follow me around, letting me bounce stupid ideas off you, going Wow! at regular and carefully chosen intervals, fetching me drinks or snacks, even buying them for me, if that makes you feel good. Just chat and listen and be there (oh, ye gods, I’m so fucking lonely!).
Only joking … or am I?
Apply now. You’ll be sorry you did.
*Well, immoral support would not be necessary; I just couldn’t resist the gag.